Deputies arrest prolific thief, recover $200K in stolen property

SPOKANE, Wash - Deputies have taken down a major commercial burglary ring, netting more than $100,000 in stolen property and arrested a suspect with a long history of burglary, theft and arson charges in California.

"This is the single most largest monetary recovery in property that we have had in one single search warrant," Spokane County Sheriff's deputy Craig Chamberlin said.

Thousands of items like shoes and electronics were recovered from Troy Baumgardner's home on East Montgomery Wednesday morning.

"This is huge for business owners, because they lost a very large amount of merchandise and a huge amount of monetary so we are so appreciative we are able to return these to their rightful owners," Chamberlin said.

Baumgardner, 37, allegedly broke into several stores in Spokane, including an Aspen Sound stereo equipment store and the Payless Shoes in the Shadle neighborhood, where he would clear the shelves of stolen goods and pack them into a stolen van he was driving.

The burglaries went on from May, when Discount Lumber was hit, to July 30 when Payless Shoes in the Shadle neighborhood was burglarized.

Acting on a tip about suspected stolen property in a storage shed, deputies with the Spokane County Sheriff's investigative task force began surveillance on a stolen white van, which was traced back to Baumgardner, who lives at 415 East Montgomery.

Baumgardner stolen property bust vo

As deputies tried to arrest him Tuesday night, Baumgardner nearly got away but they chased him down, tazed and arrested him.

When they started processing all of the recovered items, deputies found at least $200,000 in stolen property from the residence. There was so much stolen property found in the residence there was no place for Baumgardner to lie down in his bedroom. On some of the property recovered he reportedly posted yellow notes on items with prices for each so that he could sell them on Craigslist.

In a jailhouse interview Wednesday afternoon Baumgarnder explained why he did it.

"I have no idea … money, not having a job, trying to support your family," he said.

"We lost everything in that burglary," Kirk Payne at Aspen Sound said. Deputies say Baumgardner wiped Aspen Sound clean to the tune of $150,000.

"We were in shock at first we didn't know what happened because we came in there and the alarm was off and there were things missing," Payne added.

Baumgardner didn't admit to the Aspen Sound burglary but did say he burglarized both Discount Lumber and Payless Shoes.

"It was more or less just getting shoes for my kids and my sister's kids and things like that. I didn't really plan on taking that much but then I just did," he said.

Baumgardner also has warrants out of California and has a lengthy criminal history in Fresno, where he's been charged with a range of crimes including burglary, arson and vehicle theft.

In 2010 Bamugardner was convicted of setting a Perko's restaurant on fire after stealing money from the safe in March of 2008. Baumgardner, an assistant manager at the restaurant, set fire to the building to cover the theft.

Police caught and arrested him near Seattle about a month after the heist.

He was arrested again in 2011 when he fell through the ceiling of a cellphone store in Fresno he was attempting to burglarize, and then sped away from the store in a stolen van only to be caught several minutes later. At the time he was suspected in a string of burglaries across the community,

With a lengthy criminal history that includes nine prior felony convictions, Baumgardner is in the Spokane County jail on charges including 1st Degree Theft, 2nd Degree Burglary and 2nd Degree Malicious Mischief.  He made his first appearance in court Wednesday where his bond was set at $30,000.

His arraignment is scheduled for later this month.

Rob Kauder | KXLY.com Internet Content Manager contributed to this report